Homeless Children in Our Backyard

Offer Relationship

In the late nineties, I worked in a family literacy program with parents who did not complete high school, and had at least one child under the age of four. Part of this was new territory for me because daily I was thrust into a world of food insecurity, homelessness, abuse, and unsafe situations. During one home visit in particular I found out that the address the mother had given me did not exist. She and her children slept wherever they could find a place, ate whatever they could scavenge, and hid their lives in plain sight. Can you imagine the energy this took? I knew that in order to understand the community that I was serving I had to turn my values upside down in order to understand the energy it took my families to survive each day. They didn’t have the privilege of an education, secure housing, and a healthy support system, and they showed up!

When the report on child homelessness in America came out this week, it sparked a conversation that took me back to those days of serving families who were home insecure. Most of the people in my life (family and friends) did not want to hear me talk about my day if it involved the awfulness of the events of the day…and there were some awful days. They wanted to hear about the irresistible laughter of the two-year-olds or the adventures of me getting lost in my hometown trying to find homes on unmarked roads (pre-GPS). The tough stuff overwhelms us, especially when we believe we have nothing to offer to fix the situation.

Offer Them Christ

Offer Them Christ

We are so blessed as disciples of Jesus Christ. We can delight in the laughter, and also offer love to those who are in need. It is not an either/or situation. Ministry with children is a both/and. We serve the children in the congregation and the children in the larger community. We use all appropriate resources to help our children grow in faith, to help them grow as disciples. We also focus our efforts on going out as disciples of Jesus Christ to serve children in need.

On the night of the Incarnation, Mary and Joseph were literally home insecure. More children than we want to admit came into this world no different from Jesus. There are between 100 and 150 million children around the world living on the street. 2.5 million children in America do not have a place to call home. How many children in your community are homeless?

Offer Children Hope

Offer Children Hope

Just because a child lives in the cycle of poverty does not make that child hopeless. We can offer hope by being the hands and feet of Jesus. We can offer children and their families hope by going out into the communities where we live to advocate for children, to make sure all children’s needs are met, and by going beyond Christmas toy drives. They need us the other 364 days a year, too.

The church can also respond to this crisis by supporting local agencies that offer effective responses to child homelessness like:

• Safe, affordable housing

• Education and employment opportunities

• Comprehensive needs assessments of all family members

• Services that incorporate trauma-informed care

• Attention to identification, prevention, and treatment of major depression in mothers

• Parenting supports for mothers

• Research to identify evidence-based programs and services

As we think about what books we need to offer children, let’s also think about purchasing those books for children who may never have a new book. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus!

 

peace,
melanie

 

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Books on Peace

Because we can never have too many books that teach about peace…

Books on Peace for Children

Do Unto Others

Do Unto Others

All the World
by Liz Scanlon
and Illustrated by Marla Frazee
Ages 6-9

This book, filled with beautiful illustrations and soothing rhymes, celebrates the connections between families, friends and the larger community.

By Day, By Night
by Amy Gibson and
Illustrated by Meilo So
Ages 3-6

Rhyming text and energetic watercolors present children from around the world engaging in everyday activities until evening until a new day begins.

Dog and Bear: Two’s Company
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Ages 3-6

Even the best of friends sometimes have problems they must work out, and true for Dog and Bear, the best friends who can get angry but get over it.

The Lion and the Mouse
by Jerry Pinkney
Ages 3-6

The fable about how the smallest creature — a mouse — saves the majestic lion is a tale of kindness returned. Here it is effectively recast as a wordless story in a new setting. Stunning illustrations are expressive and emotive, evoking Africa’s Serengeti while retaining the tale’s power.

Little Humans
by Brandon Stanton
Ages 3-6

Color photographs of children who get back up even if they fall. The portraits show children of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds accompanied by a poetic text, together emphasizing the commonalities among children.

A Little Peace
by Barbara Kerley
Ages 6-9

All it takes is one hand, one smile, and a single voice to achieve it; and children everywhere can “spread a little peace.”

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Doreen Rappaport
and Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Ages 6-9

Martin Luther King Jr. grew up fascinated by big words. In this award-winning book, portraits of Dr. King show how he used words, not weapons, to fight injustice.

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference
by Kate Smith Milway
and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Ages 6-9

This fictionalized story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana, who changes his world with a small loan and one hen, is based on the real life of Kwabena Darko who lives in West Africa. Darko started a system of micro-loans in villages that would not otherwise have access.

Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace
by James Proimos
Ages 6-9

Paulie Pastrami is just a kid, and a kid who even has trouble getting his socks to match. But Paulie has big plans. In order to achieve his plan of world peace, Paulie begins with small kindnesses, which are sure to grow.

The Peace Book
by Todd Parr
Ages 3-6

For children, the concept of peace can be a difficult one to understand, and Parr makes an admirable attempt to explain it. He relates the notion to making new friends, listening to different kinds of music, and helping your neighbor.

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangara Maathai
by Claire Nivola
Ages 6-9

Wangari Maathai’s native Kenya was a changed land, literally blowing away because its trees and growth had been destroyed. Rather than complain, she started a reforestation effort for which she was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Stone Soup
by Jon J Muth
Ages 6-9

A traditional tale is set in China as three Zen monks come to a remote village where residents are wary of strangers. The villagers gradually add ingredients to the initial soup the monks begin from a stone, building a community feast.

The Story of Ferdinand
by Munro Leaf
and illustrated by Robert Lawson
All Ages

All the bulls would run and jump and butt their heads together, but Ferdinand would rather sit and smell the flowers. And he does just that, until the day a bumblebee and some men from the Madrid bullfights give gentle Ferdinand a chance to be the most ferocious star of the corrida—and the most unexpected comic hero.

The Wall
by Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler, and
illustrated by Ronald Himler and Eve Bunting
Ages 6-9

A boy describes the trip he takes with his father to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Together, they look for the name of his grandfather, who died before he was born.

We March
by Shane Evans
Ages 3-6

Two children aroused by their parents join a march for equal rights. Illustrations convey the children’s evolving feelings as they join scores of others in what adults recognize as an historic march for civil rights.

Zen Shorts
by Jon J Muth
Ages 6-9

One rainy day, Stillwater, a panda, shows up at the home of three siblings. The short (Zen) stories he tells reveal wisdom to each child.

 

peace,
melanie

Helping Children Help Others

A Child is Born

A Child is Born

In the midst of Typhoon Haiyan, a little baby girl is born. It reminds us of renewal, hope, and the promises of God in the eye of the storm. This baby came into this world in circumstances that most of us can only imagine. What can our children do to offer love to this baby and other babies who have lost homes and parents and the life their parents imagined?

As United Methodists, we show up for those in need following storms through the UM Committee on Relief – UMCOR.  Children are wonderful givers, and during a time when we all feel so helpless there is something they can do to extend love to our neighbors in the Philippines and babies like this little one. Layette Kits are simple and easy for even young children to make and send as part of their mission and ministry in the world.

Directions for making Layette Kits: layettekit13

Pattern and Directions for Layette Nightgowns layettenightgownpattern12

*Collection Information: Relief Supply Network

RESOURCES

Elmo Explains Hurricanes

Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll by Franklyn M. Branley

To Everything by Bob Barner

Hurricane by David Wiesner

peace,
melanie

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